Graduating from college was hard for a variety of reasons—entering a terrible job market, having a degree that felt like it was written on a cocktail napkin, and feeling like a giant question mark was placed on top of your life. These were things that I expected to feel though. These were the things that had been discussed ad nauseam so I felt emotionally prepared for the blow. What I wasn’t prepared for, however, were the quiet losses, the little deaths that litter your path when you begin the next stage of your life.
This is something we’ve talked a lot about. These are the themes we keep going back to over and over, and before you scream bloody murder at the redundancy, it’s important to think about why everyone is having such a hard time. I don’t think it’s normal to exist so heavily in a post-grad fugue so what’s the deal? Are we all just developmentally stunted? It goes beyond the crappy economy; it goes beyond spending a hundred grand on college, doing everything you thought you had to do in order to succeed only to end up as a waitress/ intern for a period of time that extends beyond the post-grad grace period. People are just having a difficult time growing up these days. We suffer from crippling nostalgia brought on by Facebook photo albums and clicking Refresh, we feel cheated by the new modern workplace so we freelance and have a lot of feelings instead. This is a moment in culture that belongs only to us. This is our generation’s legacy.
You might not relate and that’s okay because enough people do. It’s strange to see such a blatant disconnect between yourself and your parents though. They came of age and graduated college in a very different time. Their post-grad experience doesn’t resemble yours, it resembles grad school or an immediate job after college. We’re seeing a true separation of the generations happening here, right now.
It’s frustrating because we’re perceived as being lazy, which might be only a little bit true. Because now more than ever it seems there’s a pressure to be successful. Especially with Facebook and Twitter where you can chart people’s professional progress and silently judge them. We’re living life under the microscope that we created so trust us when we say that we do want a job. We need to be validated by LinkedIn!
I graduated college a year and a half ago and my friends are all still in such different places. Some are traveling, some are unemployed and doing the daily job search we all know and loathe, some are interning, some are straight up in that 9-to-5 grind at a job they hate, and only two or three of us have landed our dream jobs. No one’s on the same page. Friends are moving, staying, ignoring phone calls, falling in love, breaking up, disappearing. Some friends do happy hour after work, some are sober and go to bed at ten p.m., some of us can go out whenever we want because there’s no job to wake up to. I wonder if/ when this will ever even out. I wonder when/ if we can all find our way back to each other again. That’s the hardest part about graduating college for me—no longer being in the same place as your friends. We’re all just so far away from each other now and some of us are successful and some of us aren’t and some of us are getting there and some of us may never get there. It makes you miss the days when you both had papers on Jane Eyre due. Except not really because that book was a headache.